Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 7, pp 1079–1086 | Cite as

Brief Report: Biochemical Correlates of Clinical Impairment in High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder

  • Natalia M. KleinhansEmail author
  • Todd Richards
  • Kurt E. Weaver
  • Olivia Liang
  • Geraldine Dawson
  • Elizabeth Aylward
Brief Report


Amygdala dysfunction has been proposed as a critical contributor to social impairment in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The current study investigated biochemical abnormalities in the amygdala in 20 high functioning adults with autistic disorder or Asperger’s disorder and 19 typically developing adults matched on age and IQ. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), creatine/phosphocreatine (Cre), choline/choline containing compounds (Cho), and Myoinositol (mI) in the right and left amygdala. There were no significant between-group differences in any of the metabolites. However, NAA and Cre levels were significantly correlated to clinical ratings on the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. This suggests that altered metabolite levels in the amygdala may be associated with a more severe early developmental course in ASD.


Amygdala Autism Asperger’s disorder MRS 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U19 HD34565) and the National Institute of Mental Health (U54MH066399).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalia M. Kleinhans
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Todd Richards
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kurt E. Weaver
    • 1
  • Olivia Liang
    • 1
  • Geraldine Dawson
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Elizabeth Aylward
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Center on Human Development and DisabilityUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Autism CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Autism SpeaksNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Seattle Children’s Research InstituteSeattleUSA

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